Government breaks disability benefit “promise”
Tuesday 08 January 2013
Welfare Benefits Uprating Bill sees ESA rise by just 1%
On 8 January, work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, published the Welfare Benefits Uprating Bill. The bill aims to cap increases of most working-age benefits to just 1% – well below the rate of inflation.
In his autumn statement, published in December, the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that disability-specific benefits would rise in line with inflation, in order to recognise the extra hardship that disabled people already face.
Despite this commitment, the Welfare Benefits Uprating Bill reduces the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) for those in the Work Ready Activity Group to a 1% rise. In real terms, households receiving this ESA will be £87.65 worse off per year. This is in addition to reductions from non-disability-specific benefits, such as Housing Benefit.
Mencap has warned that the reduction would punish 500,000 disabled people, including those assessed as too sick or disabled to work.
“In his autumn statement, the Chancellor said disabled people would be protected from government plans to cap benefit increases at 1%,” said Dan Scorer, Mencap’s senior campaigns manager. “Yet half a million vulnerable, disabled people will see cuts. These are not skivers, snoozing behind drawn curtains in the morning, these are people who are either unable to work, or who would dearly love to with enough help and support.
“This is yet another cut to hit disabled people, who have already experienced a £500 million drop in support since 2010. We want to see the Chancellor honour his commitment to protect disabled people, by excluding people on Employment and Support Allowance from the cap on benefit increases.”